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Online Safety: Nude and Semi Nude Image Sharing

Nude and Semi-Nude Image Sharing

Nude and Semi-Nude Image Sharing can be defined as sexual, naked or semi-naked photos or videos generated by a young person (under 18) of themselves; these images may be shared between children and young people directly via mobile phones, webcams or online. Many professionals refer to ‘nudes and semi-nudes’ as youth produced sexual imagery or ‘youth involved’ sexual imagery, indecent imagery (the legal term used to define nude or semi-nude images and videos of children and young people under the age of 18), ‘sexting’, or image-based sexual abuse.

This behaviour may be considered a harmful sexual behaviour or as child-on-child abuse, depending on the age of children involved and the context in which the image was taken and shared.

There are many reasons why a child may engage in this type of behaviour, for example:

  • Flirting or as part of a consensual sexual relationship
  • Attention seeking or boosting their self-esteem
  • Exploring their sexual feelings or sexual identity
  • Banter, dares and jokes
  • Peer-pressure or the misconception that ‘everyone does it’
  • Coercion, threats or blackmail

It is a crime to take, make, possess, show or distribute indecent images of any person below the age of 18, including those created and shared with 'consent'. However it is important to recognise that criminalising children for taking and sharing indecent images of themselves is unlikely to be in their best interests and should be avoided where possible.

There are a range of risks which need careful management from those working in education settings. For more detailed information on how educational settings should respond to nude and semi-nude image sharing concerns, access the 'Sharing nudes and semi-nudes: advice for education settings working with children and young people guidance' from UK Council for Internet Safety (UKCIS).

UKCIS: Sharing Nudes and Semi-Nudes Guidance

The UKCIS advice outlines how DSLs should respond to incidents of nude and semi-nude images or videos being shared and includes risk assessing situations, effectively safeguarding and supporting children, handling devices and images (including viewing and deleting imagery), the role of other agencies and working with parents and carers.

The advice does not cover:

  • the sharing of nudes and semi-nudes of under 18s by adults (18 and over) - this constitutes child sexual abuse and should be reported to the police as a matter of urgency.
  • children and young people under the age of 18 sharing adult pornography or exchanging sexual texts which do not contain images. Settings should respond to child-on-child abuse concerns in line with part five of KCSIE and their child protection policy.

Responding to Concerns

The decision to respond to nude and semi-nude image sharing concerns without involving the police or children’s social care should only be made in cases where the DSL (or equivalent) is confident that they have enough information to assess the risks to any child involved and that those risks can be managed.

Decisions should be made and recorded in line with the setting’s child protection procedures and always be based on consideration of the best interests of any child involved. Decisions should be reviewed throughout the process  and if doubts remain, local safeguarding arrangements should be followed.

If at any point a child is thought to be at risk of harm, local police and/or children's social care should be informed; please access our 'Reporting safeguarding concerns and making referrals' guidance for further information on how to do this in Kent.

Kent educational settings can access the local Kent Safeguarding Children Multi-agency Partnership (KSCMP) guidance and can contact the Education Safeguarding Service for advice.